The Mehtas, the prominent Indian diamond business family, have figured on every black-money list obtained by the government or revealed by the ICIJ-The Indian Express investigation so far — Liechtenstein, British Virgin Islands, HSBC Geneva and Panama Papers. They show up in Appleby records as well.
The principal figures from the family in Appleby records are Dilip Mehta and his nephew Russell Mehta, who are among the top brass of Rosy Blue, one of the world’s leading diamond companies. Dilip Mehta, the youngest of three brothers, was chosen by his father Arun Mehta to launch the Antwerp unit of Rosy Blue and divides his time between Belgium and Dubai.
Records show that Rosy Blue took Appleby’s help to intercede in a bank fraud that targeted one of its offshore entities. They also show that Rosy Blue reached an out-of-court settlement in September 2010 that involved assurances of payment of up to $14 million.
The dispute involves Red Oak Operations Ltd, incorporated by Rosy Blue in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and bank accounts opened by it in UBS Bank, Singapore — several court documents, financial records and settlements are part of Appleby records.
Court records show that in 2005, Red Oak opened a UBS account for dealing in foreign exchange trade. The allegation is that a senior UBS employee, identified in Appleby records as Kale Jagdish Purushottam, indulged in illegal transfers, causing losses to the account.
The final legal settlement states: “Jagdish has acknowledged that he had sometime between 2007 and 2009 carried out certain trades in respect of the account in breach of duty owed to the customer which had cause and/or contributed to the customer sustaining net losses in excess of $14,000,000.” It stated that the UBS official has to pay back $14,007,468.38 to the account in staggered payments between 2010-2011.
The records also include a second legal dispute between Jagdish Kale and Dilip Mehta, who is named as defendant along with Red Oak, with Barclays Bank listed as the claimant. In this case, according to an order of the of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Virgin Islands, Kale faced the allegation of forging some documents for bank transfers done in 2010.
Records show that Kale’s “contact person” from the family was Russell Mehta because “it was convenient for Mr Kale to visit/speak with Russell Mehta, whereas Dilip Mehta was based in Antwerp and Dubai”. The records include copies of remittances through Barclays Bank in the names of two other companies, Global Investments Overseas Ltd and Star Blue Investments International Ltd.
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Earlier, several members of the Mehta family had figured on the Liechtenstein list, in which they were found to have made deposits in two trusts in the LGT Bank. Some members of the family also figured among the 612 Indians who had invested in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
On the HSBC Geneva list, they were among 77 businessmen linked to the diamond industry — six members of the Rosy Blue clan collectively had deposits totalling $53.63 crore, for the year 2006-2007, with Dilip Mehta’s account showing a balance of $8,770,617.
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In the Panama Papers — The Indian Express published a series of investigative reports in 2016 based on data of offshore entities set up by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca for over 500 Indian nationals — 24 entities linked to Rosy Blue were registered in Seychelles, British Anguilla and Mauritius.
RESPONSE from DILIP MEHTA
I am not an Indian national and have been a non-resident since 45 years. Red Oak Operations Ltd is a non-Indian company. These are my private and personal matters.
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I am not aware of what documents and information you are referring to and as such, cannot comment on their authenticity and reliability. The communications with Appleby are a subject matter of client-attorney privilege.
Appleby was retained by me and Red Oak Operations Ltd in relation to matters involving a loss arising to Red Oak from unauthorised trading by a banker on its bank account. The matters have since been settled amicably and are subject to a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement.